Every civil case has a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time in which a complaint must be filed in court against the defendants. In personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is the time in which the victim of a car accident a slip and fall, or any other type of accident, must initiate a lawsuit by filing a civil complaint. If a complaint is not filed within the time frame, the personal injury victim will lose their right to hold the defendants accountable in court. This means that victims who fail to file a complaint within the statute of limitations will lose all right to sue for damages for their pain and suffering, their medical expenses, their lost income, and their property damage.
In all personal injury cases, the best course of action is to meet with an experienced Colorado trial lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you meet with a skilled lawyer, the sooner the lawyer can investigate how the accident happened and determine who is responsible. Depending upon who is ultimately responsible for causing your injuries, a different statute of limitations may apply. The sooner you meet with the lawyer, the quicker you also can discuss your medical concerns. Skilled personal injury lawyers work with your doctors and independent doctors to help you get the treatment you need.
An experienced Colorado personal injury lawyer will explain what the statute of limitations is for your personal injury case. She’ll explain whether any exceptions apply, and will make it a priority to file your case on time.
The reasons why there are statute of limitations for personal injury claims
Colorado limits the time in which a personal injury claim can be filed for many different reasons. Some of the biggest reasons are:
- The memories of witnesses fade with time. Fairness requires that personal injury cases be decided based on the best evidence of what happened at the time of the accident. Witnesses include the accident victim, the responsible parties, any eyewitnesses, the treating healthcare providers, and many other witnesses.
- The physical evidence may change as the months and years go by. In car accident cases, the drivers of the cars have to repair or replace their vehicles so they can use them for daily activities. Once a car is repaired or replaced, there is no way to inspect the damage to the vehicle. Often, the damage to the vehicle is an indicator of how the action happened. For example, damage to the rear of a car indicates a rear-end collision, whereas damage to the side could indicate a t-bone collision or a spin. Likewise, in property liability cases, the owner of the property wants to repair the property so that he/she can use the property for their business, organization, or other activity.
Another factor Colorado considers when deciding the appropriate statute of limitations is the injuries people suffer. For many survivors, a diagnosis can be made weeks or months after the accident. The diagnosis is only one part of the case though. Most personal injury cases shouldn’t be settled or tried until the full status of your injuries is clear. While some injuries, such as broken bones, heal within a few months – there are other injuries that never fully heal. In catastrophic cases such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injury cases, it may take several years before an accident victim fully understands the medical care they will need – for the rest of their life. Colorado balances the need for justice with the need to resolve cases when you know the full extent of your medical problems.
What is the statute of limitation of personal injury cases?
In most vehicle accident cases, the statute of limitations for any type of bodily injury is three years. Vehicles include cars, trucks, and motorcycles – and other vehicles.
There are several factors to consider though.
- If the car accident caused a death, the wrongful death claim must be filed within two years from the date of the accident.
- If a governmental agency such as the Colorado Department of Transportation caused the accident, that agency must be given a formal notice within 182 days of the accident.
In most other personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is two years. The two-year limit applies in negligence cases such as premises liability cases. It also applies in strict liability cases such as product defect cases.
The statute of limitations generally starts on the date of the accident. In some cases, the statute of limitations may not start until the injuries should have been reasonably discovered. The statute of limitations can be tolled/suspended if the defendant intentionally makes it difficult for a victim to find the defendant or serve the complaint on the defendant.
The statute expires the day before the yearly period. For example, if a slip and fall accident occurred on January 1, 2021, the claim must be filed by December 31, 2022.
The statute of limitations may be extended if you were under 18 at the time of the accident or if someone you care for was mentally ill at the time of the accident.
What is the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases?
If a loved one dies due to the negligence or strict liability of another person or business, the statute of limitations is generally two years. Some exceptions may apply.
What is the statute of limitations if the government causes an accident?
In claims against the State of Colorado, a governmental subdivision such as a county, or another government agency; the statute of limitations is generally two years. However, there is a shorter 180-day notice requirement. The victim must provide written notice of the accident (with specific information) to the defendant within 180 days. If this notice isn’t provided, the victim will lose the right to file a personal injury lawsuit – even if the lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations period.
Talk to a strong caring Aurora lawyer today
At the Law Office of Anna L. Burr in Aurora, Colorado, my first priority is to determine when the statute of limitation expires. I work to investigate your case, negotiate with the insurance companies, and file the court papers as quickly as possible. To discuss your personal injury claim, contact me online or call 720-500-2076. Your initial consultation is always free. I never charge a fee unless I win your case.